US Online Apple Store starts offering iPhones on AT&T’s Next installment plans

iPhone 5s side by side gold in front

As previously rumored, Apple’s started offering the iPhone on AT&T’s Next program on its webstore in the United States, 9to5Mac reported this morning.

The much-needed change allows cash-strapped customers who prefer buying their devices full price to spread the cost of hardware with fixed monthly payments. This marks the first time the Cupertino firm has supported any carrier’s installment plan online.

After the nation’s #4 carrier, T-Mobile, last year killed contracts and unbundled the cost of hardware from the wireless service, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint followed suit by unveiling their own financing and early upgrade offers.

As we doubt this offer is exclusive to AT&T, we’re expecting the firm to start offering the popular smartphone on Verizon’s and T-Mobile’s installment plans sooner than later.

The iPhone via AT&T Next is offered through the Online Apple Store in the United States at this link.

In addition to buying the handset subsidized with a two-year contract like before, existing AT&T customers can now take advantage of the Next $0 down installment offering when upgrading to a new iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s.

Apple Store (iPhone on ATT Next 002)

According to Apple’s service plan comparison tool, customers signing up via AT&T Next will be treated to an approximately $25 discount on service plans, per month.

“When you purchase an iPhone with AT&T Next, you can save up to $25 per month on your wireless service,” reads Apple’s notice.

Unlike T-Mobile which unbundled the cost of hardware from service plans entirely, AT&T Next still includes the cost of the iPhone into your monthly service plan bills.

At the time of this writing, iPhones sold on the Online Apple Store via Sprint and Verizon were offered only on-contract. Again, we’re expecting existing installment plans by Verizon and T-Mobile to go live on the Online Apple Store soon.

Curiously enough, Apple has been piloting T-Mobile’s JUMP and Verizon’s Edge installment plans in its brick-and-mortar stores since earlier this month.

As a reminder, Apple also sells SIM-free iPhones (require a GSM-compatible SIM) and T-Mobile’s contract-free iPhone with a T-Mobile SIM.

[Apple Store via 9to5Mac]